Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

LifeChangers – Strings for Hope

LifeChangers

It’s a series about people just like you and me, who decided to do something different.

They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.

They are inspiring.

They are making an impact right where they are.

They are passionate.

They are full of life.

And they are willing to share their story.

 

I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Laura. She is the founder of Strings for Hope.  She designs great pieces of wearable art composed from recycled musical instrument strings. The strings are donated by some of the country’s most talented musicians.

Laura lives just outside of Nashville, and is surrounded by musicians. She’s also married to an extremely talented guitar builder. When I asked her how she got the idea for Strings for Hope, she said that she would watch as people were tossing used guitar strings in the trash. She quickly learned that strings are made from mixed metals, so they can’t be recycled.  They would end up in the landfill, and that just seemed wrong to her. She believes that strings have really unique characteristics, and she thought they’d make interesting jewelry. So, she started playing around and quickly came up with some designs.

Once she had the designs, she started selling the jewelry online and at art festivals. It started as a hobby. As she sold the pieces, she also decided to set aside some of the proceeds to support a charitable organization.  That felt good, but the idea soon took on a life of its own.

I asked Laura what her compelling reason was for knowing that she should do something with Strings for Hope. She explained that her 10 year old had spent the night at a friend’s house. When she picked her up about lunch time, she asked if she’d had lunch. Her response was, “No, they said they only eat two meals a day because they can’t afford three.”

Laura then explained:

 “It’s a hard economic time!  My neighbors, people living on my very own street, are struggling to feed their children. It’s not just a third world problem.  It’s the people I pass every day. It’s the people that my children go to school with. It’s the people I go to church with.”

“In America, one in six people is food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food. That’s just wrong and I got pretty mad over it.”

“About that time, the Sunday morning sermon was on the parable of the talents. We’ve been commissioned to do great things with the gifts God has given us. That afternoon my husband and I sat on the backporch of our wonderful little house in our wonderful little world, looked at each other said, “if we can do this at one music festival in one city and impact our community, why can’t we do this at two festivals, or five festivals or twenty festivals and impact the world?”

“We did a pinkie swear and Strings for Hope was born.”

I then asked Laura what she wants people to know about how they can make a difference.

“Through the buying power of a local food bank, one dollar can supply four meals. One. One dollar. How crazy is that?  Through Strings for Hope, you can get a very cool, unique, handcrafted piece of jewelry, and the proceeds of that creates meals for our neighbors.

I knew that as just one person sitting around making jewelry while watching Survivor and Criminal Minds, I would never be able to pull this off.  I’m freakishly blessed to be surrounded by a crew of volunteers who all give of their time and talent to make Strings for Hope work.  Our organization does not have any paid employees, so we are able to keep our costs very low.  That means more proceeds and that means more meals.

The added bonus is we’re also keeping all that metal from used guitar strings out of the landfill. Win-Win-Win!”

Laura’s life has changed since starting Strings for Hope. She attended Jon Acuff’s Quitter conference, and really started working on her dream.  She is surrounded by smart, talented people who are out there hustling every day to turn their dream into reality.  They motivate her and encourage her and help her keep her eye on the dream.  She is a computer geek, but wants to cure hunger.  Her relationship with other Quitters keeps her accountable for pursuing her dream with purpose.

Laura felt it was important to legitimize her company by applying for 501(c)3 tax expempt status from the IRS.  Running a non-profit corporation has made her dust off her business skills.  The reality of following her dream means she needs to balance the artistic side of  her dream with the practical side of running a business, which takes discipline.

How can we help?

Strings for Hope relies on donations. As a thank you, donors receive their very own handcrafted jewelry item.

To keep their costs as low as possible, they accept donations of used instrument strings – and any kind of instrument. She’s even made jewelry from recycled piano wires!  She can also use old jewelry pieces that are broken or no longer worn.  She can reclaim the beautiful components from those ugly pieces that we may have thrown in the back of the drawer, and give them new life as part of a jewelry piece.

Another way to help is to invite them to events. They are always looking for arts or craft festivals and music festivals where they can set up and talk to people about the hunger issue in local communities.

How can we pray for them?

We can help them by praying that people will continue to embrace what they’re doing for the environment and for their community. We can also pray that they will grow the business to expand outside of Tennessee and be able to reach people who live on our streets too.

 

I love how Laura wraps up our interview:

“I’ve got a really wonderful life going on here.  God has blessed my family with many resources and with that comes responsibility.  I believe He intends for us to use the talents to love on our neighbors.  I get to honor Him with my hobby!  How cool is that!”

Matthew 25:16

The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more.

Laura and Strings for Hope are LifeChangers. They are making a difference in so many ways. You can learn more at www.stringsforhope.com. You can also follow them on Twitter here.

Thank you, Laura, for taking the time to talk with me and for being a LifeChanger!

 

8 Comments

  1. I LOVE my necklace and earrings that Laura made from my old guitar strings. I think her idea is awesome and I look forward to supporting her dream in anyway possible.

  2. As a guitarist, I LOVE that there will be less guitar strings in the garbage. They are so dangerous when they are not disposed of properly. (I have stabbed myself countless times just taking strings off of a guitar.) I love what you are doing Laura and thanks so much for sharing her story Tammy!!!!

  3. How creative. I’m not a guitarist…yet (smile)…but as I practice I will think of you and your cause. What an awesome post Tammy! Thanks for sharing.

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